Dementia is a condition that directly affects an individuals mental abilities. Dementia impairs a persons ability to function normally and complete daily activities. Signs and symptoms of Dementia include: loss of memory, confusion, inability to complete ordinary daily activities, loss of bodily functions, impaired judgment, unacceptable outbursts or behavior, and inability to make decisions. Individuals may have one or several of the characteristics of Dementia. Having one of the symptoms does not mean you have Dementia, seeing a physician is the only way to be sure.
Dementia is a complicated diagnosis because there are several types of the disease. The most common types of Dementia include: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), HIV – Associated Dementia (HAD), Huntington’s Disease (HD), Dementia Pugilistica (aka Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or Boxer’s Syndrome), Corticobasal Degeneration (CBD), Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), and several other rare conditions that are passed through heredity.
The most common and individually feared Dementia is Alzheimer’s Disease. Medicine Net states “one in ten people over the age of 65 and half of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s Disease… 360,000 Americans diagnosed a year…50,000 reported that die.” Alzheimer’s is a disease that the medical field has made many breakthrough’s with current medication. Keeping an individuals mind active will help to slow the onset of the disease. Family patience and understanding will be needed to make it through the long and difficult road that Alzheimer’s follows.
Most Alzheimer’s symptoms appear after the age of 60, but may be seen in younger individuals. Early on-set Alzheimer’s most general occurs after 30 and before 60. The normal span of mental decline is between 7 to 10 years. With the modern medicine available today, the individual with Alzheimer’s is able to hold on to their memory for a longer period of time.
Northwestern University offers an excellent list of the Ten Warning Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia. The website explains in more detail the following ten warning symptoms:
Memory loss that affects job skills.
Difficulty performing familiar tasks
Problems with language.
Disorientation of time and place.
Poor or impaired judgment.
Problems with abstract thinking.
Changes in mood or behavior.
Changes in personality.
Loss of initiative.
When diagnosing Dementia, the person suffering from the symptoms most generally is not the one who will suspect there is anything wrong. Family members or close friends will begin to put together the inconsistencies in the individuals behaviors. It is very common that a spouse or family member will be the individual that will contact the family physician to have the Dementia diagnosed. At that point, the physician will help the family put together a plan to deal with the onset of Dementia.
If you suspect a loved one or friend is in the beginning stages of Dementia developing a plan of how to approach the individual is essential. Denial is most generally in the forefront. Take proactive steps and get the family of the individual involved to begin treatment during early on-set. By doing this, the individual with Dementia will have an easier time transitioning through the difficult stages of this disease, no matter what type of Dementia is diagnosed.